Fantasy Take: Detroit adds Pius Suter to Rebuild

Michael Clifford

2021-07-28

One of the more odd moves of the offseason was Chicago letting Pius Suter walk for nothing. His rookie season in the NHL saw him post 27 points in 55 games playing just 16:20 a night. A 40-point pace for a rookie is not nothing.

Besides that, he had a carry-in percentage on zone entries of 54 percent, well above the league average of 49 percent. Across the league, that rate of 54 percent compares favourably to reliable centres like Tomas Hertl, Jordan Staal, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (though I guess he's more of a winger these days). That is his game – get control, get the zone with the puck, and start a goal-scoring sequence. He isn't an electric dual threat like Elias Pettersson, nor is he a big-body like Ryan Getzlaf. He is just 5'9 but he knows how to use his frame to keep the puck, and then look for teammates or a shot. (Usually a shot; he was a shade over two shots per game in his rookie year. His assist metrics were less stellar.)

The playmaking needs to come along a bit but this is a guy who showed very good NHL skills for what was a fairly bad team. The Blackhawks decided they didn't need him, but an up-and-coming team did:

It works out to a $3.25M AAV in his two years.

In real life, this is a great bet by Detroit. Even with Dylan Larkin, the team is thin at centre. Frans Nielsen is 37 years old and I think they'd rather have Robby Fabbri on the wing. Both Joe Veleno and Michael Rasmussen are potential centres here, but they have to prove something first. At least Suter has two-thirds of a season in, and a good one at that. It gives them the safety of Larkin-Suter at the top and then the younger guys can get in softer minutes down the lineup. And if Suter doesn't work out, it's only a two-year deal and they don't have to worry about his money impacting their young players and available cap space down the road.

Two-thirds of a season isn't a lot to go off of, but Suter had slightly above-average defensive impacts and that